TOKYO -- A Japanese electronics manufacturing service company is breathing new life into the Aiwa brand, reviving a once-beloved household name known for making high-quality audiovisual products.
Sony has sold the right to use the brand name to a Japanese company engaged in electronics contract manufacturing. The company will start selling products such as music players and 4K TVs under the Aiwa brand at home and abroad this autumn. The new merchandise will be manufactured in China, at least for now.
Aiwa, founded in 1951, was acquired in 2002 by Sony, which ran the company until 2008.
In February this year, Sony sold the brand name's rights to Towada Audio, which manufactures electronics products for other companies. Towada Audio is based in Akita Prefecture in northeastern Japan and makes small radios and a few other products for Sony.
Towada Audio has created a new company using the Aiwa name and based in Tokyo to relaunch the brand. Starting at the end of September, products like CD boomboxes and 4K TVs with the Aiwa logo will be sold at electronics retailers and department stores across the nation.
The new Aiwa 4K TVs will feature front-facing speakers based on the company's audio technology.
The top-of-the-line 55-inch model will be priced at 138,000 yen ($1,230) not including consumption tax, compared with the 150,000 yen to 200,000 yen price range for rival products on the market.
The Japanese TV market is expected to continue growing in the coming years, driven by consumer expectations for the scheduled start of 4K ultra-high definition TV broadcasting in 2018 and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Aiwa will feature five 4K TV models with display sizes ranging from 24 inches to 55 inches and is targeting sales of 50,000 units in the first year.
Aiwa's new CD boombox will be priced at 5,980 yen. The company will also market a lineup of high-resolution music players and Bluetooth speakers.
Back in action
Aiwa fell into decline as it failed to respond to the shift to digital technology. Learning lessons from the strategic blunder, the new Aiwa will offer a wide range of digital AV gadgets loaded with features designed to appeal to young consumers.
Towada Audio has its own manufacturing plant in Japan. For now, though, the company will farm out the manufacturing of Aiwa products to affiliated audio equipment contract manufacturers in Shenzhen and other parts of China.
The Kakuta Radio & Electric group will serve as a leading sales agent for Aiwa products in Japan.
Products will be initially sold at retailers in Japan and then introduced to markets in other Asian and Middle Eastern countries where Aiwa once boasted high shares.
The company is also considering launching white goods and other types of electric products, seeking to rack up 10 billion yen in sales in the year through March 2021.
The old Aiwa was founded in 1951 as Aiko Denki Sangyo and grew by rolling out a series of innovative audio devices, including Japan's first boombox.
Aiwa formed a capital tie-up with Sony in 1969 and was acquired by the electronics giant in 2002. Sony reinvented Aiwa as a brand focused on young consumers, but it failed to generate profits, prompting Sony to terminate production in 2008.
To regain its past glory, the new Aiwa will need to keep up with the fast pace of product development that hits the sweet spot of demand in today's market.